Rumors and reports about the AirPods 3 continue to swirl, and we don’t expect them to let up until Apple reveals the final product. Here’s a round-up of all the rumors we’ve heard so far. Obviously, they can’t all be correct, and Apple’s plans could very well change before the device is announced.
Before we dive into the rumors, let’s start with what we definitely know about future AirPods models. Apple announced some features and details about new functionality for the product with Siri as part of iOS 13.
For example, Apple said iOS 13 will enable Siri to read incoming messages via the AirPods at the moment they arrive. The feature should work with Messages and any other apps which support SiriKit, which includes WhatsApp. AirPods users will also be able to share what they’re listening to with a friend more easily.
With iOS 13, users just need to move their iPhone close to a friend’s iPhone to hear what they’re listening to. iOS 13 will automatically bring up an option to share audio, and the shared audio will then be played in the other person’s AirPods.
Will the AirPods 3 get noise-cancellation technology?
Perhaps the biggest feature people will be looking for in the AirPods 3 is noise-cancellation technology. We’ve been hearing for at least a year that Apple is indeed working on a set of earphones with this technology in them, but that’s going to be a tall order. Even some noise-cancelling headphones have difficulties blocking out all the sound around the user, and they cover the entire ear.
Making earphones capable of canceling ambient noise will be quite a feat because they merely go inside the ears instead of covering them. Apple is also known for holding technology until it’s absolutely perfect, so it may be a while before we see a set of AirPods with noise-cancelling technology.
Release date this year or next?
We’ve heard conflicting reports about the AirPods 3 release date. DigiTimes said earlier this year that the earphones will be released before the end of the year. Apple released the original AirPods in December 2016, so a release during the holiday shopping season wouldn’t be unusual. However, the company just announced the second-generation model earlier this year, so there is a chance we won’t see the third generation until next year.
If Apple does release the AirPods 3 this year, it would make sense if they have noise-cancellation technology. I have a difficult time imagining that the company would release two generations of the product without a significant differentiating factor, which is exactly what noise cancellation would be.
Despite DigiTimes’ report about the AirPods 3 release date being this year, Bloomberg reported that they won’t arrive until next year. Obviously, someone has the wrong information here. Either Apple delayed the release, which it might have if the noise-cancellation tech isn’t ready yet, or one of them just received incorrect information.
Well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also weighed in on the AirPods 3 release date. He said earlier this year that Apple would release two new sets of AirPods at the end of this year or early next year. He said one set will have an all-new design, while the other will have the same design as the first two generations. The AirPods 3 were said to have not only noise-cancellation tech but also water resistance.
Here’s what the AirPods 3 need to be a success
Digital Trends recently compiled a list of suggested features Apple may want to include in the AirPods 3. Some of the suggestions aren’t exactly earth shattering, like improved battery life and waterproofing, but they’re definitely good ideas, especially if Apple wants to convince more people to buy them.
The tech blog also suggests improvements to the design, like using silicone earpieces instead of plastic ones. Most earphones do use silicone, but the current-gen AirPods do not. If noise cancellation is indeed going to be included in the next-generation model, then silicone earpieces would make sense because they conform to the wearer’s ear and could do a better job at blocking sound then plastic earpieces that fit loosely.
This could also be something along the lines of what Kuo said when he said the next model will have a new design. There isn’t much you can do with the design of earphones, but swapping out plastic for silicone would indeed be a significant change. Another suggested design change is adding some sort of physical button like a multi-function button capable of playing or pausing audio.